Reconciliation Lectionary: Psalm 51:6ab, 7-8

mary-the-penitent.jpgSometimes a reading raises questions. These verses of Psalm 51 do for me:

“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”

Indeed, in guilt I was born,
and in sin my mother conceived me;
Behold, you are pleased with sincerity of heart,
and in my inmost being you teach me wisdom.

The Lectionary gives quotes. The NAB version, slightly different, doesn’t.

Psalm 51 may be a lyrical and beautiful expression of contrition, but it is not a perfect confession. David sinned against his general and Bathsheba and his whole army. That’s more than God. Even a king is answerable to and responsible for his people. And we, too, as penitents, are responsible for our offenses.

Verse 7 is an expression of misery. We indeed can feel so steeped in transgression, and so deep into problems of our own making that it seems to stretch back to birth. I think 51:7 is less a confirmation of original sin and more a metaphor for a penitent who feels something bad has lasted so long.

With verse 8, we find a change of tone. There’s hope. We hope we offer a sincere confession. And in turn, we hope God gives us grace. Would I ask for wisdom? I think I would be happy with insight. Maybe that’s the same thing. What do you think?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Rite of Penance, Scripture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Reconciliation Lectionary: Psalm 51:6ab, 7-8

  1. John McGrath says:

    Funny, I’ve always read this to mean that David knew that any transgression against others was not just bad behavior and probably poor policy, but a sin against God. Offend others in certain ways and you are offending not just them, but God. And David, as an anointed king, offended God by misusing the offic e of king. If you anchor love of God as love of neighbor you have sound religion. Otherwise not.

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